Why Matt Rhule wants Carolina Panthers Fan Fest to be a celebration

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule wants Friday’s eagerly anticipated Fan Fest to be a celebration for everyone associated with the organization. 

It’s been a long time coming.

After more than a year of restrictions and a lack of fan involvement where the Carolina Panthers are concerned, Fan Fest represents the first major event of the 2021 season that is sure to be exciting and emotional in equal measure.

Things have not been easy. And the COVID-19 fight is not yet over with the Delta variant now causing significant concern to those who aren’t vaccinated across the country.

But at least for now, fans, players, and staff can look forward to coming together in large numbers for the first time in quite a while.

Of course, a very limited number of supporters attended games towards the end of 2020. There were also more than 6,000 fans at Gibbs Stadium for Back Together Saturday last week to see the Panthers on the field for a training camp practice.

However, nothing compares to Fan Fest.

Matt Rhule wants Carolina Panthers Fan Fest to be a fun-filled occasion.

This is always the highlight of training camp annually for Carolina’s loyal fanbase. They haven’t had much to cheer about in recent years, but head coach Matt Rhule wants the event to be a celebration after a turbulent time with so much uncertainty from a football standpoint and in day-to-day life.

"“Last week just felt like practice with fans there and this should be more like a celebration. So we’ll be doing things I’m not accustomed to. There will probably be people there that can’t come to a game but can come to fan fest and kids from across the region. We’ll have players talk here and there and some fun things, but it should be a celebration of the players and a good experience for kids. For all the fans but thinking about the kids too, this is a chance for them to see the likes of Christian McCaffrey and Jaycee Horn.”"

Tickets for Fan Fest sold out quickly. Something that was expected considering how starved supporters have been for some normality and atmosphere last season.

It’s going to be a big boost for players, too. Much has been made about the Panthers being one of the league’s most vaccinated teams – which should ensure complications are kept to a minimum when competitive action begins – but it’s worth remembering most of this roster hasn’t played in front of a full house at Bank of America Stadium before – which they’ll finally do Week 1 against the New York Jets.

Fan Fest is a further sign that things are returning to normal. Just how long this will last is the big question.

For now, fans should embrace the moment. Sample every last bit of what’s going to be an incredible atmosphere and get a good look at the players they’ll be cheering on unconditionally this season.

Rhule is right. This should be a time for celebration.

Must Read. 5 players winning their position battles at Carolina Panthers training camp. light

And one thing is for sure. Everyone that’s followed the guidelines and sacrificed so much to get to this point thoroughly deserves it.